The Price of Multiculturalism


Multiculturalism flourished as an opportunist strategy to resolve the British establishment's crisis of legitimacy. It emerged out of the exhaustion of past traditions and, to some degree, required the repudiation of historic sources of national pride, notably the British Empire and the legacy of imperialism. Its advocates expressed a spirit of national self-abasement as they recalled the shameful legacies of slavery, conquest and war. But mainstream gestures of apology and shame had the effect of encouraging attitudes of anger and resentment among Britain's ethnic minorities. Instead of producing harmony, multiculturalism has nurtured hatred. There are a number of negative consequences of multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism has encouraged the politicisation of identity in ethnic or religious terms. Earlier immigrant minorities, such as the Irish or the Jews, cleaved to their national and racial traditions in ways that were largely personal and private. They may have participated in public acts of worship but their ethnicity rarely took a political form. By contrast, the identity of being a Muslim has come to define many people in British society to the exclusion of all other characteristics.